RIO COLORADO — The 125 lb. tarpon slid up out of the muddy depths of the water at the mouth of the Rio Colorado, opened his maw and sucked in the blue flashaboo fly that Ralph Pino was stripping back to the boat. My companion pointed the rod right at the huge fish and yanked three times on the fly line as hard as he could to set the hook.
Feeling the point being driven deep into his jaw, this silver king came out of the water in an athletic leap that would have made Dick Fosbury proud. Just as his tail got about three feet above the surface he swapped ends and came crashing back into the deep brown water from whence he had come.
He hardly had time to gather himself when he launched himself again. This time he crashed landed on his side sending plumes of rainbow-ladened droplets out over the surface of the Gulf of Mexico.
While all of this was happening, I was reeling in my line as fast as possible. Our guide, Ralph Morgan, was clearing the deck getting ready for the long fight we knew was coming. We put away rods, slipped the gimbal around Ralph’s waist so he had a place to put the butt of the rod, and made sure there was nothing on the deck to get in his way.
The first real run came after the second jump. Sensing that going airborne wasn’t going to get rid of the hook, the silver-sided mammoth decided to head north toward Nicaragua. The reel spun at a dizzying rate as the dark blue backing line disappeared into the water.
The rod bent to the task and the drag on the Redington CDL 11/12 reel made the fish work to get away. We were fishing with 150 lb. test leaders, the Rio 600 26 ft. 14 wt. sinking tip and 100 lb. test backing line. But even with that heavy gear, the fish took line whenever he wanted to. Our guide started the 150 Yamaha, spun the center-console boat and followed the fish.